Do not just resolve problems for your customers’ complaints. Analyze why you have complaints, what is causing them, where they are coming from and what you can do to cut, eliminate or at least minimize their number. Categorize the reasons for your complaints and determine their source and why they occur. Get your engineers and quality control people involved with these issues from the beginning and pay attention to it as managers, because without attention, it will ruin your business.
Where are your problems? You need to try to see patterns or trends so you can trace where and why these problems occur. Are problems stemming in shipping and receiving? Are problems coming from your plant’s assembly area? Do you have a warehouse organization issue? Are there flaws still evident in the design of your products that have not been resolved? Do you have a problem with outside vendors who do your painting or finishing? Do you have problems delivering on time; hired drivers, outside freight firms, poor logistics people or just few too people with industry experience? Do certain groups of employees need training or better supervision and guidance? Your complaints stem from reasons that generally you can solve if you measure them, analyze them and pay attention to them every day.
Gather up all the complaints from all sources. Gather all the complaints together in one place in one database. Unless you have all of the complaints together, you cannot pick up on repeated offenses, continuing similar problems and reoccurring issues that are frequent and will tell you about functional or procedural deficiencies in your firm. You have to know how groups of problems are related, how they occurred and only then will you be able to fix them. Complaints come into an organization from a number of sources into a number of groups (i.e. receiving, inside sales, accounting, truck drivers, etc.) and all need to be directed into a group ready to respond to them with appropriate attention.
Complaints come in groups related by common cause. Understand that if a company has 1,000 complaints over a period of time, 70 to 80% of those are probably due to just a few major issues. There will never be 1,000 actual different reasons for customers’ complaints. They come in waves. Their cause is a small concentration of reasons. It is your job to find out those reasons. Assign detailed oriented employees to start sorting, grouping and analyzing.
The majority of your problems stem from a small group of reasons. You will discover that out of 100 random complaints, 60-70% are probably caused by very few (three to five) problem sources (i.e. poor supervisor on 2nd shift, a small group of bad operators previously overlooked for quality training, a certain untrained technician in QC who unknowingly passes and occasionally certifies ‘bad’ product, a truck driver who does not independently count to find shortages, etc.). The balance of all the other complaints exist because of a myriad of issues that just need to be tracked down and solved. The resolution to these items will lie in training, brief discussion and realignment of job tasks, correcting employee perceived job priorities and possibly a few targeted terminations of bad performers who refuse to change and thus need to now move on.
Go solve the easiest problems ones immediately. Solve the easy ones first as quickly as possible so you can spend your time focusing on those which create the largest losses or biggest cost premiums. This will be done effectively by a select group of managers who will respond favorably if curing these complaints favorably affects their personal bonus program.